The Psalm of Redemption VII: Redak
I. “It is good to give thanks to God.” (Verse 2) The Sabbath day is more suitable for giving thanks to the Lord than the other days of the week, because man is free from his mundane pursuits and his soul is clear from physical distractions, thus enabling him to engage in wisdom and divine service.
II. “To declare in the morning Your kindness,” at the time of Redemption. “And your faith at night,” during the distress of the exile, to believe in You that You will keep Your promise, all this is beautiful and good.
III. “For You have made me happy,” on the Sabbath day, when I studied Your works and the works of Your hands, which are the world and that which is within it. On the Sabbath, when I have time to meditate upon this matter, I am happy.
IV. “I shall exult,” when I meditate on it and achieve a certain degree of knowledge, I rejoice and exult in my heart. Since thus exultation is relative to each individual sage according to his own achievement, the singular form is used.
V. “But You remain on high,” although the wicked prosper, let no one say that God does not supervise people’s deeds, as those of little faith believe. On the contrary, God sees everything. God is on high forever and sees what everyone does. Eventually, the time will come when everyone will be rewarded according to his deeds. (Rabbi David Kimchi)
Machberes Avodas Hashem:
I. Moshe entirely changed the emotional focus for the slaves in Egypt when he focused them on using Shabbat as a time to express gratitude to God for the good in their lives; especially their ability to continue to “engage in wisdom and divine service,” despite their servitude during the week.
We can use Shabbat to study Torah and enhance our Divine Service as a form of expressing gratitude for all the blessings of the past week.
II. Moshe taught the slaves that we relate to different God differently during of exile than we do in times of Redemption. We focus on God’s kindness when we live during times of redemption. During exile we relate to God’s reliability; expressing our trust that He will keep His promise of redemption. The slaves had to learn that our relationship with God can adjust to what we emotionally and spiritually need at specific times.
There are times when our learning and service should be focused on love: Experiencing God’s love for us, and nurturing our love for God. There are also times when our learning and service should be focused on God’s promises, and reliability, and on our commitment to be reliable in our relationship with God.
III. I can picture Moshe, as an essential part of his spiritual guidance of Israel, inviting prominent scientists to lecture each Shabbat on the wonders of creation, and I recall the stories of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto who continued to lecture, study, write plays and perform under the most horrific circumstances. It was for the slaves in Egypt, as it was for those in the ghetto a statement of the unbreakable soul within us.
I have found that the more I fought to learn new languages, read books, and study new topics while spending months in the hospital, nourishes my spirit and allows me to rise above particular circumstances, no matter how challenging. The more difficult the circumstances; the more I studied.
IV. Rejoicing in our Torah study and spiritual growth is as liberating for us as it was for Moshe’s students in Egypt. Finding no joy in our Torah study and Divine Service can make us feel that we are no more than slaves. Moshe is teaching us to celebrate the Shabbat as just such a day of rejoicing.
V. Moshe taught the slaves in Egypt to experience Shabbat as a reward, which is what is meant when we say that Shabbat is the Taste of the World To Come.